Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Treasure Island rejects new boat speed rules for Blind Pass

TREASURE ISLAND — Efforts to extend weekend restrictions on boaters using the Blind Pass channel to the Gulf of Mexico collapsed last week when the City Commission rejected consideration of new regulations proposed by neighboring St. Pete Beach.

Waterfront residents on Sunset Beach, as well as residents on the St. Pete Beach side of the channel, want slow speed, minimum wake rules in effect since 1997 for weekends and holidays extended to weekdays.

The St. Pete Beach City Commission has already agreed, but withheld final approval until Treasure Island agreed to pass a similar ordinance.

Tuesday, Treasure Island commissioners refused, despite pleas from its own residents and from St. Pete Beach Commissioner Al Halpern.

"We need to work together," Halpern told the commission, adding that he did not intend to ask his commission to change the boating rules unless both cities could agree.

At issue is the difficulty in enforcing differing rules in the narrow channel dividing St. Pete Beach from Treasure Island. The two island cities currently have the same slow speed, no wake rules for weekends and holidays, but no regulations during the week.

Before the cities coordinated their boating regulations in Blind Pass in 1997, boaters frequently steered closer to the Treasure Island side of the pass to avoid being ticketed by St. Pete Beach marine patrols that enforced that city's tougher speed regulations.

The current rules are a compromise reached after lengthy and contentious meetings that often pitted Treasure Island boaters against waterfront residents.

Now, a decade later, residents hoped the commission would be willing to make the rules stronger.

"I just don't think it is the will of the commission to do this," responded Treasure Island Mayor Mary Maloof after polling commissioners during a workshop session.

"I would be lying if I didn't say this upsets me," responded Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach and supports tougher boating regulations in Blind Pass.

Bildz told the commission that Sunset Beach residents "are up in arms" to force boaters to slow down in the Blind Pass channel.

Sunset Beach resident and Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Heidi Horak echoed that contention, urging the commission to take a "more comprehensive look" at the problem.

"The noise and disturbance caused by Jet Skis and some boats is extremely unpleasant, as well as damaging to marine life, sea walls, docks and other watercraft," said Suzanne Melling in an e-mail sent to commission members.

"During the week we have to suffer the parasail operators, Jet Skis, water skiers, cigarette boats, and others speeding up and down Blind Pass. It's dangerous and very noisy," said John Lowe, also a Sunset Beach resident.

In contrast, Dave Winkler, a Sunset Beach resident and Blind Pass business owner, objected to extending boating regulations to weekdays.

"The vast majority of people do not wish to see this ordinance go forward," Winkler said. "The compromise of 1997 is viable and it works. Safety issues are only a minimal problem."

Paradise Island resident and boater Richard Kraus argued against Sunset Beach residents making rules for the entire city. "Recreational boating is a huge element of Treasure Island's allure," he said.

Police Chief Tim Casey told the commission there is little evidence of a major safety issue in Blind Pass.

"When I first did a search (of police records), I thought there was an error, the numbers were so low," Casey said. "There were only 105 complaints over a four-year period. This does not represent a significant problem."

Treasure Island rejects new boat speed rules for Blind Pass 06/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.